I stayed up way too late last night listening to a debate between James White and Bob Enyart on Open Theism. Open Theism (Bob Enyart) is a theological doctrine that believes the future (what we do today and tomorrow) is not settled in the mind of God. In other words, God gave us the freedom to make our own decisions. Watch Greg Boyd’s short intro to Open Theism here. The Settled View (James White) believes the future is completely known by God. This might seem like a minor theological issue but I assure you it’s at the heart of everything you currently believe about God. Continue reading
I recently read Jonathan Martin’s book, Prototype. It’s a beautiful book and I highly recommend it. I was so touched by the book, I jumped on Twitter to let him know:
@timivey How kind of you! True story-I was positively sobbing when I wrote the section on the woman It was an emotional piece to write.
— Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) July 4, 2014
In his book he reenacts the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. Books don’t normally have a big emotional impact on my but this had me almost bawling. Anyone who has truly come to know Jesus can identify with this woman. Throughout history there have been many people I wish I could have meet because they were awesome people – Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi – but none is historically as cool as Jesus. If you separate Jesus from all the religious “stuff” you’ve come to know about him, he is without a doubt the most interesting historical figure you could ever meet.
I asked Jonathan’s permission to post the passage he wrote in his book called “The Woman” and he graciously gave me permission to. It’s a little long but worth the read. I challenge you to drop your pretenses about the religious Jesus and see the impact he had/has on real people. Continue reading
I’ve been around church for a while now. I’ve tried lots of different discipleship programs in the past all with varying degrees of success. The big problem is most discipleship programs are too complex. Most of them require people to purchase materials of some sort and need someone who’s comfortable leading, Discipleship programs always seem to work until about week 4. After week 4 the coolness factor begins to wear off, people quit doing their homework and you start to hear all kinds of interesting reasons why people can’t make the next meeting. If you’ve ever been on the leading end you know what a life sucking endeavor that can be. It’s also very hard to duplicate these groups as you really need a devoted charismatic leader to lead the group. I have as much charisma as a bar of soap so I’ve never really seen these type of groups succeed and duplicate. Continue reading
I was honored this weekend to be able to do opening prayers at Life Church, the church we’ve lovingly been accepted into during our stay in Belfast. Here’s what I shared with them (articulated a little better via the written word than my clumsy public speaking )
There’s a childhood story about a little train engine who against all odds pulled an oversize load up and over a mountain. We love this story because we can all identify with that little engine. We struggle with our fallen nature in much the same way. Against all odds, we burden to pull the heavy cargo of our sinful nature throughout our life. Continue reading
The date was Sunday, May 18th, 2014. The salty California air was thick with anxious excitement at New Heart Community Church. It was 14 long weeks since Pastor Danny Cortez dropped a bomb on his congregation with the revelation of his 3-year journey towards a reversal in his stance on homosexuality. That night was the night parishioners gather to decide his fate. Should they uphold their long standing position on homosexuality or cause a church split alienating themselves from their denomination? Should they continue to reject people who choose to live in homosexual relationships or extend them acceptance into their fellowship?
I want Pastor Cortez to share with you, himself, “the bomb” he dropped on his congregation 14 weeks prior. But I want you to hear the whole thing. It’s 60 minutes long. If you don’t have an hour to watch this video right now, I ask that you not go any future until you have the time to watch it. I promise you, it will be worth it.
Pastor Danny Cortez:
Homosexuality isn’t going away. There is no question that “gay agendas” are permeating the world around us. In the coming years, same sex marriages will be legalized across the country followed shortly by the rest of world. The monopoly of the “traditional” family will be no more.
This of course is no shocker to Christians. Sadly, most of us live in an “us” and “them” world with an “in” and “out” mentality. We view the world around us as inherently evil and headed towards destruction and go to great lengths to separate ourselves from it. It’s almost like the worse it gets the better we feel. But on the issue of homosexuality, something interesting is happening. The “in” crowd is starting to come “out” and (hopefully) the “out” crowd is starting to come “in.” With good cause, Christians in even the most conservative circles are starting to question the traditional stance on homosexuality.
We’ve been so lazy on this issue, simply regurgitating what has been passed down to us from generation to generation. My stomach turned as I listened to Pastor Danny describe how we’ve taken the Bible, read it through Western eyes and spit out our perverted version to the world. This should not be.
I too have read these passages Pastor Danny mentioned at face value. It’s obvious homosexuality is a sin, right? It says right there in Romans. I HATE to say this because I feel like I’ve come so far in Jesus’ one-step treatment program but deep down inside, I’m still afraid of homosexuals. Since I was a kid I was taught that homosexuality was a heinous sin. That God invented AIDS as retribution for gay people and once we found a cure for AIDS God would invent something else. I’d like to look back and say we’ve come a long way since then but we simply haven’t. Thankfully God is starting to open my eyes to the way He sees people. I’m starting to get it.
Ask yourself, what if Pastor Danny and many other people who have studied these texts in detail are right in their conclusions? What if Paul is referring to Caligula? What if the word we’ve interpreted as “homosexual” in the Bible means what Luther thought: “boy abusers”? What if God loves and accepts a homosexual the same way he does a straights? If these things are true, than what have we done in Jesus’ name? Rater then Christians struggling with tough questions like this, historically we’ve shoved our fingers in our ears and sang Kumbaya. Changing course is no joke:
“What will be said is we have to guard the purity of the church. We have to remain strong. We have to look at God’s word and not compromise. Then I think about Jesus who was the most morally pure person I can ever think of. And he didn’t create walls of separation. He didn’t do that. What he did was he went to their homes. He went to their fricken homes.” – Pastor Danny Cortez
For anyone who thinks they have this figured out, I LOVE what Pastor Danny said in this video:
“I caution you to realize that it’s so easy to look at the Word of God and merely look at the letter of the law. But there is something underneath it at a deeper current that is only understood by the Spirit, moved by love, and drawn into compassion. Our thoughts can’t be just about arguing the Biblical texts. It must be understood in the context of love and that means in the context of real human relationships. Because compassion is what gives clarity to this matter.” – Pastor Danny Cortez
With the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention only days away, I fear their retribution for Pastor Danny and his church will only serve to further isolate God from the people He loves. I personally am not ready to jump full heartedly on the “Gay is OK” bandwagon but I’m praying one day I too can join the ranks of Pastor Danny in imparting life into the homosexual community, not because I feel they need to get right with God but because God loves them and accepts them just as they are.
“For me the the study of God and the way I find truth is no longer trying to find the best arguments, the best books, the best scholarly research. It’s about looking at Jesus and the way he lived his life and finding the Kingdom of God in the things that people deemed worthless and the people who are most broken.” – Pastor Danny Cortez
Here’s the truth, fellow Christians. Homosexuality is coming to a church near you (and by this I mean your church). There is no stopping it. There is no hiding from it. You don’t have to agree with Pastor Danny or anyone else who have been able to come to peace with it. However if you’re going to continue standing against it, you better be darn sure you have good cause to do so. It’s hard to swim with a millstone around your neck.
Pastor Danny, here starts my three year journey. I hope to meet you in the “third way.”
- One whom you’ve inpisred
DeReGo is the name I decided on for my blog on WayVibe. No… it’s got nothing to do with the a mini Hispanic cartoon explorer although it would probably get more followers if it did
Like a lot of people, I came from a place with a pretty perverted view of God. It’s been a long process of getting to a point where I can call God my friend. I feel like I am just starting this journey. I’m actually a little interested if that’s how everyone who’s truly journeying feels as well. It’s an awesome feeling to wake up in the morning with a fresh, child like approach to God. Although I’ll admit still waking up like a grouchy old selfish person most mornings, this Abba Father (daddy God) is starting to grow on me a little. I’m certainly not there yet but I feel for the first time in my life my path is oriented in that direction. Continue reading
I find myself the be pretty knowledgeable of the basics of Biblical faith which is one of the reasons I just dumbfounded myself with a pretty basic question I don’t have an answer to. I’m interested to know if anyone one else has an answer or it’s just chalked up to one of those things we don’t/can’t know about God.
We know God instigated animal sacrifices as a way of atonement (getting back on God’s good side) for sins in the Old Testament times. This is pretty vividly explained in the book of Leviticus. We also know that the shedding of blood was a foreshadow of Jesus’ death on the cross which was the perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices.
But what’s the deal with the call for blood in the first place? Continue reading
An author I’ve been reading a lot lately posted something the other day that really got me thinking. There is this movement happening where people, mainly atheists and agnostics are getting together to do “church” but without all the God stuff. Like the original author (Morgan Spurlock), I too think this is awesome!
Watch the video quick and continue for my take on it:
One of the things that I’ve often thought about is why people wouldn’t want to join a church. For all the things church may have against it, it offers people something we all crave – being part of a community that loves us. It’s possible you had a bad experience with church in that past and you may have found this wasn’t the case. I would tell you that’s an exception rather than the norm.
I think this is why part of this anti-god church movement is happening. Take God out of the equation and all you have to focus on is loving and supporting each other. People are more comfortable in a church without God!
Just let that last statement seep in a little.
If you took God out of your local church, would it be a healthier, happier place?
You may ask, “Yeah… but if we take God out of church, what’s the purpose of meeting together?” Bing! Hopefully the question answers itself as soon as it tumbles out of your mouth. If we meet together so we can talk about and do God things we’re not a church, where a fan club. We’re Godies. We even wear the uniforms and go to the conventions.
I’ve had this strange internal… feeling (I don’t know what to call it) that we are on the cusp of a great revival in the church – a feeling almost like the anticipation of a big vacation just around the corner. I’m not alone in this. We’re staring to wake up to how Jesus starved we are and the vomit we’ve been asking people to pull up a chair and enjoy with us that we call Christianity.
These are big words for a little man. Who am I to challenge the system that has largely been in place for the past 1701 years? I don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are many, many people that are smarter than me. But I see things like the Anti-God Church and I’m strangely drawn to it. It makes me second guess what we’re doing as Christians. Jesus is simply awesome. Not because I’m brainwashed to say that or it’s just how Christians are suppose to talk. He is awesome because of who he was, who he is, and who he will be. How have we managed to pollute our churches with Jesus? That’s like ruining a pizza with more cheese and pepperoni. It should be impossible. But that’s where we’re at.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this whether you’d consider yourself a Christian or not.
Would the church be better off without God?
Would God be better off without the church?
I was raised in a conservative Christian home which helped set a pretty strong foundation for my faith. Over the years, stick by stick, I built my understanding of God on that foundation. By the time I was in my late teen years, I decided my house of faith really sucked and I deserted it.
A few years later I decided to check back on that old house. The neighborhood still looked the same minus a few other deserted houses. Standing back in front of my own, I saw a small glimmer of hope through the cracks in the windows. Slowly, I began renovating everything, knocking down walls and expanding where I needed and then moved in. I fixed that old place up.
A couple years later, strange feelings began to surface. Although I fixed it up exactly how I thought it should be, I slowly started to feel a sense of alienation in my own home. After a few more rounds of remodeling, I began to realize the feeling wasn’t getting any better. I even knocked the whole thing down an tried to rebuild it to no avail. I began to wonder why my house of faith never satisfied me.
As I looked around my neighborhood, I realized something. All the homes looked pretty much the same. Even the house that I spent so much time rebuilding looked similar to the others. I tried talking to the neighbors to see if they felt the same about their homes. Some of them seemed happy but I sensed a lot of confusion in others. Some of them even questioned my right to ask such questions.
In desperation, I considering the possibility of self-eviction. Just then, the Master Builder showed up on my door step. Good, I thought. I’m going to nail this f’er to the floor. I brought him into my kitchen and laid my blueprints out on the table. I built this house to the exact specifications I found in his plan book. Everything was perfect. Frustrated, I threw them in his face. “Tell me what I missing!”
“Where’s the plans for the foundation?” he asked.
What? What a weird question. Do foundations even have plans? I searched through all my previous blueprints and found nothing.
I was stunned. In all my previous attempts to rebuild, I’ve always overlooked the foundation!
That master builder helped me move out of the neighborhood and break ground on a new home. I’m camped out in the back yard as we work together on that new foundation each day. He tells me that we’ll never be fully done so don’t bother building my house too high. We might just need to dig up that old foundation and start again.
God has utterly wreaked my theology in the past year. Like Jennifer mentioned in her post, I too have “read [myself] into a completely new and much richer place.” Thanks to people like Rob Bell, Gregory Boyd, Alan Hirsch, and many more soon to be read authors, my understanding of theology has morphed God from a watcher into a listener, from an author into a guide, and from a judge into a friend.
No doubt, I’m in an identity crisis. I really don’t know what I believe anymore. But I’m excited to be excited again. And I’m confident I’ll come out on the other end a better person even if I have to live in a tent for the rest of my life.
I’ll leave you with this:
If our theology is not wrecked from time to time we have probably made an idol of our theology. HT @csalafia
— Jennifer Neyhart (@JenniferNeyhart) April 27, 2014